Verstappen leads Leclerc to Abu Dhabi victory

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – NOVEMBER 20: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (1) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB18 and Sergio Perez of Mexico driving the (11) Oracle Red Bull Racing RB18 lead the field into turn one at the start during the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on November 20, 2022 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Max Verstappen has won the final race of the 2022 season at Abu Dhabi with Charles Leclerc behind and Sergio Perez in third.

The race had a clean start with a good getaway from Max Verstappen, who started from Pole, and Sergio Perez behind him. Lewis Hamilton and Carlos Sainz battled it out for 4th place, and the Spaniard seemed to have pushed the 7-time World Champion out of the track, which was noted by the stewards but no penalty was inflicted, although the Mercedes was asked to give the position back to the Ferrari.

Despite holding the 3rd and 4th positions on lap 12, the Ferrari drivers didn’t seem to have it easy – Sainz, when told by his engineer that his pace and tire degradation were better than expected, disagreed with the assessment.

At the back, Sebastian Vettel and Esteban Ocon were fighting it out for 8th place. The Alpine had the better speed and managed to hold off the Aston Martin, as Fernando Alonso approached from behind, leaving the German in the middle between himself and his French teammate, who was the first to pit on lap 15, followed by Yuki Tsunoda, Mick Schumacher, and Pierre Gasly.

The midfield saw interesting battles, one being a three-way dispute for 11th place between Tsunoda, Alonso, and Valtteri Bottas. The three drivers closely raced each other and exchanged positions, with the Japanese coming out on top on lap 24, although the Spaniard continued to chase him and eventually gained the position the following lap. Alonso retired from the race on lap 28, though. The Alpine was told on the radio to pit in order to retire his car.

Nicholas Latifi and Mick Schumacher collided on lap 39, as the German made contact with the rear of the Williams, though both drivers were able to continue. Latifi had to finish the lap into the pits with a punctured tire.

The closing 10 laps of the race saw Max Verstappen lead with Charles Leclerc behind him. Sergio Perez was running third, trying to catch the Monegasque. However, he was too far back, though the Ferrari was told to increase his tire-saving strategy.

Drama struck Hamilton with only 3 laps to go as he suffered from mechanical issues and drove slowly around the track, retiring from the race.

In the end, it was Max Verstappen who claimed victory of the final race of the year, with Charles Leclerc in second place and Sergio Perez third.

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